The Evolution and Art Interface: New Paltz Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Darwin Day

Humans around the world create visual art, music and dance. None of these activities are particularly helpful at facilitating survival. How did these features come to so strongly embed into our species? Why are humans “artistic apes?”

The New Paltz’s Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program will explore these questions during its 10th Annual Celebration of Darwin Day – a day dedicated to celebrating the advances in our understanding of life that have followed from Charles Darwin’s work.

The event will be held on Thursday, February 12 (what would have been Darwin’s 206th birthday) from 5-8 p.m. in Lecture Center room 108.

Gabrielle Starr

Keynote speaker Dr. Gabrielle Starr (New York University) explores the connection between evolution and the arts.

Dr. Gabrielle Starr (New York University), author of Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience, will deliver the keynote address. Starr is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at NYU and her work focuses on a scientific/evolutionist account of the arts.

A panel composed of local scholars with interests in the evolution and art interface will follow the keynote address. Panelists include EvoS scholars Glenn Geher (Psychology), Andrew Higgins (English), Paul Kassel (Theatre Arts) and Andrea Varga (Theatre Arts).

The public is invited to attend the talk and free reception.

The event is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, Evolutionary Studies Program and School of Fine and Performing Arts.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

EvoS Program Announces Spring Seminar Series

The New Paltz Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program has assembled an esteemed group of speakers for its spring 2015 seminar series. The speakers represent a diversity of disciplines (anthropology, biology, sociology and psychology) and will continue the EvoS program’s tradition of providing accessible and thought-provoking academic talks that connect evolutionary principles with all areas of knowledge.

The EvoS program, together with its sister program from SUNY Binghamton, is at the center of the international EvoS Consortium, which was launched with funding from the National Science Foundation. The EvoS program celebrates the power of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution across all aspects of the academic curriculum.

Patricia Wright of Stonybrook’s anthropology department will deliver the Darwin Day keynote lecture on Feb. 9 from 6-7 p.m. in Lecture Center 102. Darwin Day commemorates Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday. Wright will speak about her years of work with Madagascar lemurs (currently featured in the IMax film, Island of Lemurs, narrated by Morgan Freeman).

Patricia Wright

Patricia Wright, shouldering a lemur, will deliver the keynote lecture in the EvoS Program’s spring seminar series. Photo by Ben Hider

The full series, which features other luminaries in the field of evolution – including notable rising stars, is free and open to the public.

The series is sponsored by Campus Auxiliary Services, the EvoS Program and the EvoS Club.

For more information about this seminar series, or how to get involved, contact EvoS Director, Glenn Geher, geherg@newpaltz.edu.

2015 Seminar Series Schedule of Events

Feb. 9:  Lemur Evolution and Ecology
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Stony Brook University
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Feb. 23: Songs and the Suburbs: What Birds Can Teach Us About Communication and Conservation
Kara Belinsky, Ph.D.
SUNY New Paltz
Department of Biology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Mar. 9: Using Evolution to Improve our Cities
Dan O’Brien, Ph.D.
Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Department of Sociology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Mar. 23: Primate Evolution in the Modern Age
Todd Disotell, Ph.D.
New York University
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 6: Facebook Frenemies and Selfie-Promotion: Intrasexual Competition in the Digital Age
Mandy Guitar, M.A.
Binghamton University Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant
Department of Biology, Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 13: Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis
Christopher Lynn, Ph.D.
The University of Alabama
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 20: The Evolutionary Psychology of Breaking up and Making up
Joel Wade, Ph.D.
Bucknell University
Department of Psychology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102